A few months back I decided that to ring in my 30th year I would attempt to run a 100 miler from Superior, AZ to Oracle, AZ along the Arizona Trail. With a short time frame I found an aggressive training plan that ramped up mileage over the course of 24 weeks. With a portion of the training already completed I started the program at the 14 week mark, leaving 10 weeks of very structured training remaining. I am currently in week 20, with two weeks of increased training remaining before the taper. As the run gets closer I find myself learning things about myself.
Disclaimer: Full curmudgeon rant ahead.
I am all about introducing people to the backcountry and outdoor experience. Nothing compares to your first overnighter. All the shit you bring that you think you need. The packing, then repacking, then repacking again, till you feel you sort of have it right (warning: this never goes away). There is nothing like seeing the natural beauty through the human lens. But recently it seems that there has been a flux of people becoming interested in the outdoors. People who are only there for the Twitter post or new Facebook profile. You know the type. A group of people wearing matching tank tops with 'Havasupai 2016' across it, or something stupid like that. You can normally hear them before seeing them, because of the portables speakers blaring.
Outdoor gear ads picture flannel wearing, bearded kids laughing around a campfire holding a guitar (clearly car camping). And some how this ad makes it to the roofie littered floors of college frats across the country. First thought: "Bra, we should totally go camping. No wait.....backpacking.....with bitches. Oh yeah it is going to be so bad ass.". This is at least how I imagine the initial planning of most Havasupai trips going. Now there is an influx of people coming out where they aren't ready to be. Or even treating the outdoors like any garbage covered urban landscape. On my last trip to the Grand Canyon (after a few days below the rim) at .25 mile from the top I come across a fucking Monster Energy can. Now mind you it could have been a anyone that left it (even a fellow hiker), but odds are it came from some individual whom had little appreciation for the landscape they were observing. On that same exact trip we came across a group of backpackers who were attempting to get to a specific camp spot hours away, with little daylight left. The group appeared to be fresh, and did not look to have any idea what the route ahead entailed. Yet some how, this group found themselves in one of the most hostile landscapes, getting out into #nature. Most likely inspired by a clever ad.
Maybe because my twenties are coming to an end, or maybe things are changing, but either way I wish we had a few more Edward Abbeys, Emma Gatewoods, or Colin Fletchers hiking the trails. I am tired of hearing your shitty music on the trails, or the endless chatter from bro hoes. So please, I am begging you leave your solar powered speakers, matching trip outfits, and garbage at home. Better yet, go back to doing whatever it was you were doing before you decided to come trample through the woods. Maybe take up shuffleboard.
New year, new you! I especially hate this time of year. Everyone crowds the trails with their have hearted attempt at New Years Resolutions. Come on we know this will only last for month. You know when the best time to buy fitness equipment is? March or April. By then everyone has side lined their far fetched goals. I found some statistics (but could find the source of the data) that estimated that only 8% of people who make resolutions, actually succeed at completing them. So as a little bit of fun I thought we could look at what 8% looks like in terms of our world, the outdoors.